According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the drug called “flakka” is one of America’s latest emergent drug trends. The substance is mostly made from the chemical compound alpha-PVP, which was included in the list of controlled substances by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration.
The term “flakka” refers to a Spanish word intended for describing a thin woman. Flakka is also called “gravel” for its white chunks. This chemical is similar to bath salts (synthetic cathinones) in its effects: hallucinations, anxiety, paranoia, hyperthermia, and violent behavior. It can be consumed in various ways; snorted, injected, smoked, or even swallowed.
Based on police reports, flakka has surfaced in Texas, Ohio, and Tennessee, but is most prevalent in Florida, where consumption of the drug has risen sharply. In the first three months of 2015, 275 flakka-related incidents were reported to the laboratory of the Broward County Sherriff’s office.
Jim Hall, an epidemiologist at the Center for Applied Research on Substance Use and Health Disparities (CARSUHD) said that flakka consumption contributes to dementia and its after-effects are potentially fatal.
“The individual becomes psychotic, they often rip off their clothes and run out into the street violently and have an adrenaline-like strength and police are called and it takes four or five officers to restrain them. Then once they are restrained, if they don’t receive immediate medical attention they can die,” he added.
Flakka only costs $5 on the street and is accessible in bulk, based on an April report from the Dispatch Times.
According to Fort Lauderdale Police Sergeant Nick Coffi, the widespread use and cost of flakka is undeniably alarming. Growing numbers of people have easy access to the drug, and this will surely lead to grave consequences in the future.
Government and law enforcement officials warn citizens to avoid using flakka and the related health risks it brings.